Thursday, June 6, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday- Catching Readers Before They Fall

I apologize for the late installment.... I'm still sick.  In fact I finally stayed home today.  I have my favorite guest teacher in the room, so I feel a bit better missing a day when there are only 6 left in the school year.  My hope is that resting today will give me the energy to finish out the year strong (and not coughing all over my students who brought Halls to school for me!).

I've spent most of my time this year researching and examining why students struggle and/or fall behind in reading.  I've mentioned before that I'm on our school's Student Support Team made up of teachers and special education/ intervention staff.  It is part of our RTi process in our district.  We collect a LOT of data in order to pinpoint a child's successes and deficits.  Click HERE for more information about assessments.  Once the child's goals are set, we set out to develop an intervention plan.  One tool that we have been using is:

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The book details the learning process that is involved in learning to read.  The big "a-ha!" moment for me was that "All readers-- and that includes students with learning disabilities-- use the same reading process" (Johnson & Keier, 22).  Essentially, the label doesn't matter.  You start where the child is at in the process (what they are just attempting to do in reading), and start there. 
This book has proven to be a great resource for upper elementary teachers who may not have had experience with the beginning reader.  There are times when students move in to our school in later grades, so we don't have a strong grasp on their academic history.  Unfortunately, many have gaps in their learning that must be addressed in order for them to flourish.  Things that a lower elementary teacher may just see as the norm, it a huge thing for teachers who generally have students who already have these skills.
The first three chapters discuss how reading works and the various theories of learning.  I'm a constructivist, so my beliefs fell in line with the authors' views of how students construct a system for learning to read.  Essentially, there is a system that must be integrated through multiple strategies.  Unless you spent a lot of time studying beginning readers, you may not have learned this in school (or you just forgot because you haven't needed it in so long).
One chapter is dedicated to going "beyond sounding it out".  It's filled with an entire section of "if your student is missing this- do this to help".  The authors give a fish bowl look into a conferring session and the wording that the teacher uses to support the young reader
A bulk of the book offers suggestions to set up a classroom culture that will support readers of all levels with good teaching practices- maybe some that you already use, but need a tighter focus to ensure all readers are involved.

My favorite chapter is all about parents.  Yes- parents!  they have many questions (rightfully so) and they should be addressed in order to partner with them for the student.  Many of them, we may forget to address because we live the "education life" and use jargon.  Oooops!  I'm actually using some of them next year in my curriculum night presentation to help parents right from the start.

I hope you like this book.... if it's not for you, please suggest it to an upper elementary teacher who may have lower ability reader in their classroom.

happy reading!

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